I believed the mirror. Or what I’d been brainwashed to believe I was supposed to see when I looked at my reflection. When I was little I would stare at my reflection in the window of the car on long road trips. My dad would tell me I was beautiful and he loved to take my photo.
This stopped when “the change” starting happening. My hair didn’t know what to do. Straight? Curly? Which one???? My complexion changed from clear and smooth to bumpy and red. Dermatologist after dermatologist.
Braces. Head gear.
I began to avoid my reflection. I would only look at myself in the mirror, to put on makeup. My new mask. I never left home without it. I didn’t let anyone see me without makeup. Cameras were to be avoided. Sensitivity and paranoia replaced confidence. I remember a boy in middle school who didn’t even know me calling me “pizza face” in the cafeteria line. My little heart was shattered.
Self-hatred and shame began to enter my internal world. I nursed an unknown anger towards God for not doing a better job on my outward frame. I didn’t know the bondage I lived under until college. For the first time in years I was choosing to go make-up free on a missions trip to India. You might as well have asked me to expose my deepest core fear and wound —that being, “I am not beautiful and you get to see me how I REALLY am underneath all of this pretense.” I was terrified of the day my teammates would see what I had been hiding. Until you have come out of deep shame, you can’t understand the pain and humiliation. Shame exposes. It mocks and threatens with “if they only knew….then….” So, I hid. Until the day before my team was to depart for India.
My friend encouraged me to share the whole mess–the whole beautiful mess with my friends. So, I gathered my fellow teamies and in sobs of shame and brokenness revealed that I was terrified of tomorrow. Because tomorrow they would know the Hyde part of me. I honestly was under the deception that I was deeply flawed and monstrous. It breaks my heart that I believed this as my core identity. Instead of rejection, my team gave me mercy. They cried as I cried. I was ministered to and set free that day. I was told that beyond the physical, I am beautiful. Sigh. Relief. Rest.
That was the marking point of walking into freedom at the deepest part of my heart. I began to believe that God made me and said I was beautiful to Him. It took awhile though to stop agreeing with the “flaws” in the mirror. Sometimes just out of frustration I would make remarks about how I didn’t externally measure up. One particular time my sister caught me in that cycle and strongly told me to “STOP IT!” Her eyes teared up and she said, “it hurts me when you talk down about yourself.”
WOW! I had never thought that negative self talk actually affected those around me. I began to understand what she meant. I’d hear friends who are gorgeous talk about their thighs or their extra 1/2 pound that made them so fat. Or their hair. Or an imperfect facial feature. Something began to ache in me. I hurt that they had this perfectionistic standard that they would never measure up to. It pains me now to see a beautiful lady hide from a camera because she feels unworthy and is bound up in shame because she doesn’t see her beauty.
God deliver us from the lies we hear in the mirror. Set us free from the lies we see everyday through the media that make us feel we somehow fall short no matter how hard we try. And finally, as You open our eyes to the truth that we are each fearfully and wonderfully created, help us to begin to break agreement with the lies and refuse to talk degradingly about the ones You call lovely. Us.